FCC Repack Plan: Key Points
October 5, 2016
some key points from the phased-in repack plan
proposed by the Federal
Communications Commission last Friday.
Proposes DMA-Level Phased
Repack,” Sept. 30.) Comments on this plan,
described in the Transition
Scheduling Plan Public Notice,
are due Oct. 31. Replies are due Nov. 17.
The quiet period prohibiting auction
participants from communicating about bidding
continues to apply during this comment-reply
period, but is not meant to “discourage stations from proposing
that would reduce reimbursement costs or
implement a marketwide transition
plan that broadcasters may independently
develop,” such as American
Tower Corp.’s broadband antenna
proposal for large markets, the TSPPN
(TV Technology will present a Q&A with ATC’s vice president of Broadcast, Peter Starke, on the company's Broadband Antenna Initiative, next week.)
- The commission ran repack scenarios for both a 114 MHz and an 84 MHz clearing target. (The current clearing target is 114 MHz. If the auction does not close at this target, it will drop, most likely to 84 MHz.)
- At 114 MHz, 1,393 stations have to move.
- At 84 MHz, 1,274 stations have to move.
- FCC will finalize
repack during the forward auction clock phase
the final stage rule is met.
- At that point, each station eligible to remain
on the air will receive a confidential letter with
assignment, technical parameters and assigned
- Once the forward auction
FCC will release an
“Auction Closing and
Channel Reassignment Public
Notice” listing all post-auction channel
assignments, technical parameters and repack
- These deadlines
comprise 10 transition phases, each with sequential
testing periods and phase completion
commission seeks feedback on whether or not it
should consider completion date waivers in some cases.)
- All stations within
Market Area will be assigned to no
than two transition phases.
- Transition phases
will all begin at
the same time, but have
phased completion dates.
- Stations moving to new channels will have
months from the release of the
“Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment PN”
to apply for construction
for facilities modifications.
- The construction permit deadline
be the phase completion
- With the exception of the first transition phase, the
phase will begin the day after
the phase completion date. Equipment tests
on post-auction channels will be confined to a
station’s specified test phase.
- Stations that may experience
or create interference at new
channels will have to coordinate equipment testing as
part of a “linked-station set”
in a daisy chain, illustrated above right.
- At 114 MHz, 799 stations are linked to others.
- At 84 MHz, 710 stations are linked.
- This coordination may involve operating at a
lower power or accepting more
interference during testing.
- Stations that are not part of a
linked-station set may commence
testing without coordinating it with their
- The commission is proposing to allow a
percent increase in temporary pairwise
interference during the transition,
and no more than 0.5 percent afterward.
- The FCC’s Media Bureau will use
software programs to establish
the repack process:
| — The Phase Assignment Tool will assign TV stations to a specific transition phase based on constraints designed to minimize interference as channels are assigned in the auction process. These constraints include:
- Causing no more than 2 percent new interference to another station during the transition.
- No Canadian stations will be assigned before the third transition phase, and none will be assigned temporary channels.
- No more than 10 transition phases.
- No temporary channels will be assigned, with the possible exception of stations in complicated interference dependencies and those close to their post-auction channel assignment. (Discussed further below.)
- At least one, but no more than two transition phases per station.
- No phase can have more than 125 linked stations.
- No station in a “complicated” interference-interdependency will be assigned to the first phase.
- A difference of no more than 30 stations between the largest and smallest transition phases.
| — The Phase Scheduling Tool will be used to establish phase completion dates.
- This tool will divide the station transition into a pre-construction stage and a construction stage, with the goal of managing resource availability.
- It will incorporate specific estimates regarding the availability of tower crews.
- Tower crews will be divided into three categories—U.S. crews qualified for more difficult jobs, such as top-mounted antennas on towers exceeding 300 feet; U.S. crews qualified to do less difficult jobs; and Canadian crews.
- The software discounts the time allotted to multiple jobs on a single tower.
- It assumes that 75 percent of stations will need an auxiliary antenna.
- Testing periods for stations that complete the transition in four weeks will be "scaled up" to allow four weeks of testing.
TV Technology strongly encourages readers to consult the FCC Media Bureau’s Transition
Scheduling Plan Public Notice, Appendix A, which starts on p. 19 and lays out more technical details of the commission’s proposed repack plan. As always, TV Technology will continue to provide coverage on the auction and the repack. As our esteemed contributor Charles Rhodes says, “stay tuned.”
- The commission would prefer to make
seeks comment on them nonetheless:
- Should the commission decides to use temporary
channel assignments, they would
be limited to stations with
- These temporary channel
assignments would be close to the station’s final
channel assignment, and limited to
- If stations are assigned a temporary channel,
they must apply for a Special Temporary Authority
broadcast on it within 90 days of
release date of the
“Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment PN.”
- Must-carry would
apply to temporary
- Inter service interference
would apply to temporary channel assignees.
- “Reasonably incurred costs of
needed to move to temporary
are eligible for
both broadcasters and multichannel TV
- Construction deadline extension
will be evaluated case by case.
- Proposals for expanded
also will be
evaluated, case by case, according to their
overall impact on the repack.
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